Climate Talks End With People’s Agreement

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Developing nations and social movements left out of December’s climate talks in Copenhagen have issued their own call for change.

Cochabamba Climate Talks

President Morales opened the event with exhortations to choose life for the planet.

Read more about the People's Climate Summit.

Photo by Lauren Rosenfeld and Tupac Saavedra.

The People’s Agreement—the culmination of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth—demands that wealthy nations cut their carbon emissions and pay a “climate debt” to impoverished countries. The April summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, convened by Bolivian President Evo Morales, drew more than 30,000 people from around the world.

The three days of workshops and discussion groups, which included substantial representation from indigenous groups, yielded a look at climate justice from the perspective of the Global South, as well as the movement’s left flank.

“Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life,” the agreement declares.

According to the Cochabamba declaration, the climate debt owed to developing nations includes both economic reparations and adaptation payments. The agreement also calls for a new International Tribunal of Conscience to hold wealthy nations accountable.

During last December’s talks in Copenhagen, a group of the planet’s wealthy nations convened behind closed doors to reach agreement on vague, non-binding goals for reducing carbon emissions, setting the stage for temperature rises well above the 2 degree ceiling needed to avoid climate calamity. Although none of those countries sent their top leaders to Bolivia, cabinet-level representatives of 20 nations attended.

Summit leaders plan to take the People’s Summit declaration to the next round of U.N.-hosted climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, later this year.

—Jim Shultz attended the Cochabamba conference. He is executive director of The Democracy Center.


Video Icon 10pxA Climate Summit for the Rest of Us: The Cochabamba climate summit was designed to respect the power and knowledge of world social movements and indigenous peoples.


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